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Eastside Audiology - Issaquah, WA Eastside Audiology - Issaquah, WA

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Because it’s simple, soduku is one of the world’s most popular puzzle games. A pencil, some numbers, and a few grids are all you need. For many, a Sudoku puzzle book is a pleasant way to pass the hours. It’s an added bonus that it strengthens your brain.

It’s becoming popular to use “brain workouts” to tackle mental decline. But there are other methods of slowing down mental decline. Current research has shown that hearing aids might be able to provide your brain with a nice little boost in mental stimulation, slowing down the progression of cognitive decline.

What is Cognitive Decline?

Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Without stimulation, neural connections will fizzle. That’s why Sudoku tends to keep you mentally active: it causes your brain to think, to creatively forge and strengthen a plethora of neural pathways.

While a certain amount of mental decline is a natural part of aging, there are some things that can accelerate or exacerbate that decline. A particularly potent danger for your mental health, for instance, is hearing loss. Two things happen that powerfully affect your brain when your hearing starts to go:

  • You hear less: There is less sound going in to activate your auditory cortex (the hearing focus of the brain). This can cause alterations to your brain (in some situations, for example, your brain starts to prioritize visual stimuli; but that’s not true for everybody). Increased danger of mental decline has been linked to these changes.
  • You go out less: Untreated hearing loss can cause some people to self-isolate in an unhealthy way. As your hearing loss increases, it may just seem simpler to stay home to avoid conversation. But this is not a good idea as it can rob your brain of that necessary stimulation.

Put together, these two factors can cause a major change in your brain. Memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and eventually a higher danger of dementia have been linked to this sort of cognitive decline.

Is Cognitive Decline Reversable With Hearing Aids?

So if your hearing loss is neglected, this kind of mental decline can be the consequence. This means that the best way to reverse those declines is pretty obvious: address your hearing impairment! Usually, this means new hearing aids.

The degree to which hearing aids can slow cognitive decline is both surprising and well-substantiated. Approximately 100 people with hearing loss from the age of 62 to age 82 were interviewed by the University of Melbourne. Over 97% of those adults who used their hearing aids for at least 18 months reported a stabilization or even reversal of that mental decline.

Just wearing hearing aids resulted in an almost universal improvement. We can learn a couple of things from this:

  • Helping you continue to be social is one of the key functions of any set of hearing aids. And the more social you are, the more involved your brain remains. It’s easier (and more fun) to talk with your friends when you can follow the conversation!
  • Finding ways to keep your auditory cortex active would be advantageous because stimulation is the key to mental health. As long as you continue to hear (assisted by hearing aids), this major region of your brain will remain stimulated, active, and healthy.

Sudoko is Still a Good Idea

The University of Melbourne research isn’t the only one of it’s kind. If you have neglected hearing loss, countless studies have demonstrated that using hearing aids can help slow down mental decline. But many individuals have hearing loss and just aren’t aware of it. You might not even recognize the early signs. So if you’re feeling forgetful, strained, or even a little spacier than normal, it might be worth talking with your hearing specialist.

You should still continue doing Sudoko and other brain games. They keep your brain fresh and flexible and give you stronger overall cognitive function. Both hearing aids and Sudoku can help you work out your brain and keep yourself cognitively fit.

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